Photos By: Megan Dapper and Russ
Article By: Chris Burlingame
During the weekday afternoons, Decibel Festival hosts a series of panels and workshops to discuss issues surrounding electronic music. On Friday, I caught two. While at one panel, I overheard someone say “I won’t be getting any sleep until late Sunday night”. That shows just how solid the lineup is and how interesting events run around the clock at this festival.
The first was on marketing yourself online and it was hosted by dB Fest’s Erica Toelle and LA-based writer Shilo Urban. It was aimed at how artists can best reach out to labels, booking agents and bloggers to gain attention for their work. I was mostly interested in how they were instructed to reach out to bloggers because that’s most in my scope and the points they were making (ID3 tag all of your music, try to personalize each e-mail, ask before sending music to make initial contact). As most music writers I know get hundreds of e-mails a day, those points can’t be underscored enough.
The second discussion I caught made for a great segue as it was a discussion of online file-sharing with the owners and managers of some small and major electronic labels including Room 40, Ghostly International, Friends of Friends and Static Discos. Adding moderator Dave Segal from The Stranger and KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone, the table was quite full. The intro described P2P file-sharing as “the elephant in the room because we all do it,” which isn’t quite accurate (every mp3 on my laptop and iPod were obtained legally) but the discussion mostly moved beyond file-sharing. As Ghostly’s Jeff Owens said, “as a label manager, I can’t be afraid that someone is going to steal our music.” Static Discos’ Eji Val (whose label is based in Tijuana) mostly threw up his hands in the air and said he started working with file sharers because it was counterproductive to try to work against them. Mostly, though, the talk was about creating a product that people would want to pay for and not obtain illegally, ie, special editions for popular releases.
For the evening showcase, I caught the Red Bull Music Academy’s RBMA on the Floor, headlined by German duo Modeselektor at Neumos.
Opener Shlohmo, or Henry Laufer, is an LA-based producer whose set mixed a lot of ambient soundscapes into his beats. It was great to listen to, though it felt a bit awkward when songs would stop abruptly and he’d try to get an applause from the crowd. Still, his beats were solid (and his set progressed a bit as the BPMs increased), so the crowd was happy to provide the applause he was seeking after each song ended, however unexpectedly. He’s only twenty and already quite prolific, releasing two albums on Friends of Friends this year, so his stage presence will only grow as his reputation does.
Modeselektor, the long-running German duo of Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert, has nearly twenty years of history behind them, and about fifteen as a group. When they took the stage at Neumos early into Saturday morning, the crowd was packed and in high anticipation for the band. They didn’t disappoint, playing a set that spanned their history, with sometimes glitchy, but always consistent beats that the crowd ate up until just before 2am. They didn’t fit into any genre as a whole, their set was varied and unpredictable. Everyone seemed to really love it, wanting to keep going long after they left the stage and the lights came on. The flowing Red Bull surely didn’t hurt.
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